As you can imagine, the journey that has been Covid has not been an easy one to understand or manage. We had rather hoped that by now we would all have a better understanding of when, what and how things would pan out. We all want certainty but the situation does not allow that. When making a decision on what to do with subscriptions in February we have tried to bring some perspective and certainty to the situation if we are to have enforced closure beyond the end of February.
We have decided that we will be charging full subscriptions for the month of February but, thereafter, will not charge if a further lockdown takes place between March 1st and October 31st, 2021 (broadly speaking the golfing season).
This will be calculated on a pro-rata daily subscription rate (i.e. the annual subscription divided by 365 days) and the credit will be applied when Members renew their membership.
The credit will be allocated evenly over the following 12 months. This will only apply to Members who continue to pay their subscription in full. This credit is in addition to freezing subscriptions for 2021/22 at their current level.
We want to give our decision some context:
- While subscriptions are apportioned monthly, the use of the membership is obviously not. Golf is to a great extent a seasonal sport, so we don’t think the loss of the ability to play is the same in February as it is in May.
- Assuming we are closed for the whole of February, we will have been closed for five of the past 12 months and Members will have received three whole months credit, and Get Golfing will have charged for two months. In our mind, there is some parity there.
- We also want to raise the issue of what happens to your subscription. We are a charity and no one has a personal gain beyond their remuneration and all remuneration is in line with industry standards. Just for the record, during lockdowns, no staff member has earned more than £2,500 a month regardless of whether they have been furloughed or not. So your subscription is actually going to your Club. We have been assisted by furlough (mostly partial) and some modest local authority grants recently, but have continued to pay our sizable rents in full and meet our other operational costs.
- At the beginning of February we will start to escalate investment into the courses in the hope that clubs will be allowed to open on February 16th or shortly thereafter.
- We have looked carefully at other clubs and believe that we sit in the top 25% of Clubs who have refunded subscriptions.
It has been our goal to significantly improve the Club and course by the first anniversary of our takeover. An awful lot of challenges have beset us but we do firmly believe that in the short time we have been involved, things have started to improve.
Therefore, in summary, we are charging for February but have given an undertaking that so long as a Member continues to pay their subscription, we will refund the period that we are closed.
We all want to be back playing and when the weather improves, hopefully that will be the case. We do not expect everyone to agree with our decisions but hope that this gives you an understanding of our position and that it can be considered as a reasonable solution to an awkward set of circumstances.
On a final, unrelated note, we have decided to hand back the keys on the lease at Oak Park. The rents were significantly above market values and despite a series of attempts to renegotiate the lease, the landlord, as is his right, chose not to engage. We, therefore, used the “in the event of closure due to government legislation” clause within the agreement to vacate the property – as was our right.
Edward Richardson, Chief Executive, Get Golfing
From David Harris, General Manager: Despite lockdown 3.0 at the start of 2021, Hampton Court Palace Golf Club and Get Golfing are continuing to invest heavily in the course and clubhouse.
Our grass driving range has newly laid turf and we are now waiting for a dry spell in order to lay the artificial base and mat ready for when we reopen. We hope that the grass area will be ready for May 2021.
Our fairway irrigation project starts at the end of January with installation starting on the 1st and the 18th. Over the next four years we will install the system across the whole course, giving us full irrigation on all tees, fairways, approaches and greens. Ultimately, we expect it to provide members with great playing conditions 12 months of the year.
The clubhouse renovation project has already begun, we have stripped out the main areas and the contractors are now in. The plan is to transform all areas of the clubhouse including the reception, the staircase and the private room upstairs as well as the main lounge and a new extended bar inside. In addition, the pro shop will be turned into a private dining area/card room.
Outside, the patio will be extended to seat more than 130 people, served by an outdoor bar with all new furniture, lighting and decor.
Our greenkeeping team is maintaining the course as best as possible in the current weather conditions so that we are ready for reopening whenever that is allowed.
We are doing all we can to ensure you have the best facilities when you return to the Club and going forward through 2021. We believe that Hampton Court Palace Golf Club will become truly unrecognisable from what it was in the past and you will love being a Member here.
Stay safe and healthy and keep an eye on our website and social media pages for updates (Facebook and Instagram)